Commander Imperial Stout. Dead Frog Brewery. Aldergrove, B.C. 10.5% @ 65 IBU
Shortly after releasing the Valiant Belgian IPA, Dead Frog has already issued two more selections for our tasting pleasure. Included in the tandem is the Brazen Northwest Pale Ale and the Commander Russian Imperial Stout. The Commander boasts a hefty 10.5% abv, much more adventurous ingredients and bolder flavours. It's on the same page as Howe Sound Brewing's Megadestroyer Imperial Liquorice Stout in that it imparts a strong liquorice/star anise aroma & flavour, utilizes molasses and has a boozy backbone.
Following in the footsteps of many stouts prior, the Commander is a heavy black beer with a cherry mocha coloured head. It has a slight pinkish hue... but perhaps the lighting was deceiving me? Alas, a large, globby head developed on the pour and lingered around before giving way to a thin froth.The Commander offers a barrage of aromas for you to dissect. The foremost aromas are star anise (which is the dried fruit of a tree and has similar qualities to liquorice root), molasses and alcohol. A touch of dark fruits stirs its way through the mix and adds a fruity, sweet element. Even deeper is a wispy scent of a lightly burnt chocolate mocha and a subtle offering of oak/wood that flirts with your senses. All in all, a very interesting and compelling nose with a tonne of nuances to discover.
Just as the nose suggests, complexity is the existence of this beer. The dominant smells of the Commander do in fact command the flavour. But it's the nuances where this beer really earns its decorative status. A hard hit of star anise strikes the palate leaving your taste buds vulnerable to the next flank. The molasses and brown sugar give it a thick and syrupy mouthfeel that smooths out the intensity of the star anise and alcohol bite. Although it's quite strong in the abv department the alcohol provides a warm tingling sensation without being overtly aggressive. As for the subtleties, it's as though someone poured in the remaining bit of coffee left over from a carafe, squeezed in some prune juice, added a bit of chocolate syrup and stirred it up with a wood stick! And if that isn't complex enough, I found that as it warmed up a nice embedded flavour of peat smoked malts was released. I can't help but imagine what a year or two in the cellar would do to round out and meld these flavours. Time will tell...
Until then, it's quite enjoyable right now. If you have an adventurous and bold palate pick one up for now and throw one or two in the cellar for future enjoyment and comparison. A quick and dirty lesson on cellaring:
Find a place where light does not hit the bottles and the temperature is consistently cooler (preferably in the neighbourhood of 10-12 degrees celsius)
Store the bottles upright.
Let them sit unimpeded for approximately 6 months or years to come.
A little hint that I recommend is wrapping the bottles in brown paper bags so that light is further reduced from entering the bottle. I also label the bag with the type of beer inside and the date at which it entered the cellaring stage for tracking purposes. There are many opinions and varying recommendations when it comes aging beer. For a more in depth read on storing your beers click here